Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Nine Key Second Life Predictions for 2011

Here are my Second Life Predictions for 2011.   I am assigning a probability of  65% probability, on average, for each to happen, so I am expecting 6 to come true in 2011.

Please note these are not optimistic projections.  Second Life is currently in what Gartner calls "the trough of disillusionment" and has been after the "peak of inflated expectations" started to be breached around three years ago. 

1.  Linden Labs will not be acquired in 2011

However,  Linden Labs will aggressively continue negotiations with web giants such as Microsoft and Facebook, and other organizations who will balk at the high price asked for what many consider to be a moribund application of narrow-use technology. 

2. "Second Life 2.0", although not called as such,  will finally launch in 2011.  

It will be browser-based client that is designed for social networking and ultimate connectivity to Facebook or a competing Google service. It will not allow for complicated building and scripting. It will not be called Second Life 2.0.  It will continue to drain resources from "regular" client-heavy Second Life. Avatar portability between the two will not immediately occur

3. Usership of "regular" downloaded Second Life (called just Second Life from now on in these predictions), in terms of both user hours and concurrency (number of people logged on) will increase anywhere from 1% to 15% by year end 2011.

Linden Labs will be dissatisfied with these results. 

4. Second Life will not increase content investment by more than 10% in 2011.  

Content investments here refer to  funding that pays for multi-sim anniversary celebrations, marketing and sales to encourage third party corporate investments, and community support to expand celebrations like Second Pride.  The lack of professional and compelling content in Second Life will increasingly be seen as a reason for lack of real growth in 2011. 

5. External media references to Second Life will not increase in 2011. 

This prediction is defunct if Second Life is acquired. 

6. Second Life will only hire back a token number (under 10) of key employees who were laid off in 2010 and will miss a key opportunity by doing so. 

This will create a great opportunity for new market entrants as the virtual world / virtual reality / three - dimensional content segment picks up in 2011.

7. Blue Mars, although not surpassing "Second Life" as the most widely visited and populated virtual world, will continue to make inroads in gaining media attention and usership. 

Blue Mars ability to pick up large-scale projects from at least four major universities in 2010, while still in its beta stage, is something that Second Life will need to counter to remain competitive as a platform in the long term. Blue Mars more sophisticated graphics and visualization will continue to give it a competitive edge over Second Life.

8. Blue Mars and Second Life will increasingly be marginally, and not directly competitive through 2011 due to their very distinct approaches to inworld content and activities. 

Second Life's emphasis on wide-scale permissions for users to script and build, and Blue Mars tighter control of user activities such as sex and low-level games of chance ("sploders") are resulting in two very different environments. 

9. The "Open Sim / Open Source" alternative virtual world applications of Second Life technology will not cut into existing Second Life usership numbers to any great degree (more than 5%).

This will be due to lack of large-scale compelling content and marketing resources, and other factors of scale.

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